Showing items filed under “The Rt. Rev. George Sumner”

Pessimistic Optimism

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If we look at the Bible from the widest angle, several things are clear. Its scope is everything, as it comes from God and, by His grace, aheads back to His reign. The end matches, fulfills, and surpasses the beginning.

But the plot of that arrival is a battle, a struggle. The conclusion is a victory, and the conqueror is the wounded lamb Jesus Christ, who also resides at the center of the story.

And books like Daniel and Revelation confirm that signs of that victory are plague, persecution, distress...and the preaching of good news! (Revelation 19:11). Take courage- things will get worse before they get I describably better, for only for a fixed time set by God (Daniel 7:25). All this illumines the mixture of pessimism and hope of the believer hard for the worldly mind to fathom.

Death: End of All Things

The most immediately pressing sense of the ‘end of all things’ is our own demise, in spite of all our cunning in suppressing the thought. One human strategy is to render it fully ‘natural’, as if we were turnips. ‘Affirm the cycle of life!’ but hidden here is a desire to bury our creation in the image of God. Or at the opposite end the human being falls into various kinds of gnosticism, supposing we can filter a fragment of ourselves that is divine and impervious to death. Both strategies are themselves doomed.

Paul declares death the ‘last enemy’ in I Corinthians (15:26). But what is death? If we had not fallen would be have died? No, because God would have upheld forever in life (not because we were in ourselves immortal- on the difference turns Genesis 3). But now fallen, death has we know it is a fearful thing from which we must be delivered as God’s Son himself passes through it (Romans 7:24). As a result heaven is populated by creatures dependent for their eternal life on the creating and redeeming triune God.

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